View Full Version : Weekly Poll: Are you teaching Sex Education? If so, for what grade?

06-01-2011, 06:30 AM
This is something that I had experienced while my oldest was still in school. In the 5th grade, the school system feels that it is a good time to show all the children, sex education films. They separate the boys and girls, of course, but some of the topics made my very sensitive child uncomfortable enough that he made myself sick. So my husband and I discussed it with him at home but didn't go into to great detail, waiting for his mind to catch up with his body. This next year will be his 9th grade year and I have to decided to take it slow by first introducing one of "The Anatomy Coloring Book", and we are lucky enough to have a POE center nearby that is all about the body. They offer classes which might be an option down the road.

So when do you as homeschooling parents think that it is appropriate time to teach sex education?

06-01-2011, 06:48 AM
We will certainly teach sex education; I'm just not quite sure when it will happen, since my son is only 8-years-old. As it is, we're not shy about talking about sex in our home, and he's aware that sex is something normal for adults who love one another. I think I'll just go with the flow and see when he expresses curiosity, or when puberty closes in (whichever comes first) before adding formalized sex education to our days. :)

06-01-2011, 07:28 AM
I voted no, as we discuss puberty, their bodies, and sex as the topic comes up and when each kid is ready.

06-01-2011, 08:03 AM
I have no plans to teach Sex Ed as a school subject. I don't really see it as that kind of thing, really. I understand why schools do it, because some parents don't bother and it is important to learn, but we have always been open about it in our house. My 8 and 4 year old both know the names of both male and female body parts, they both know (basically) how babies grow, and how breasts can make milk for them. The 8 year old understands the the sperm and the egg join to create the baby, and has asked specifically *HOW* the egg and sperm get together. I explained it to her clinically, and also that it's something that couples do because they enjoy it as well as for making babies. She also knows about puberty and that she'll be getting her period at some point in the next few years, and growing hair, etc.

06-01-2011, 08:42 AM
I put "other". My answer is "yes", but from the get-go. My kids are 23, 17, 14, 9, and 6. All boys except for the oldest. We talk sex ALL THE TIME. I count it as homeschool. I still have my Netter Anatomy books from when I was a med student (very helpful). I get those out and make b+w copies for the youngest to color. Then we discuss. With the olders, condom use, STDs, babies, self-care, puberty, hormones, masturbation, relationships, etc. Whatever. It's all game. No stone left unturned. Sometimes even at the dinner table. *wince* :)


06-01-2011, 08:52 AM
I put grade unlisted because we do talk about it from the get go. We have farm animals so the basics are covered by the time you're old enough to wonder why that ram is climbing on the ewe (usually around 5 or 6) we talk about human sexuality as they get older. Definitely cover condoms, birth control std etc before the hormones kick in so that the knowledge is there when they do.

06-01-2011, 09:14 AM
We'll discuss it when the time is right (when he's interested, getting to a certain age) but I haven't given it any thought yet since he's only 8. He knows some about how babies develop but doesn't ask much about how they get there in the first place. He's had no exposure to things that would cause many questions--he doesn't watch TV (except shows about engineering and the like), reads only age appropriate books and doesn't have older siblings or friends who might make comments. A (short lived) age of innocence, I guess.

He did recently read a book with daddy about puberty which was pretty hilarious. DH tried to skip a couple parts (wet dreams! yikes!) but otherwise openly answered any questions as they came up. We'll definitely be proactive, but I guess we have a couple years before he's really interested.

Sadly, he has a ps friend who, at the age of 7, has a "girlfriend". Apparently *all* the kids in his rural Nova Scotian school have paired up (holding hands, calling each other bf and gf, kissing on the cheek) which this boy's mom thinks is hilarious and cute and I think is downright appalling. The friend asked my son recently if he has a girlfriend and my son of course said no. His buddy said "well you should, I do" and DS replied totally innocently "WHY?". The friend of course had no response. I mean--yuck! So sad to me that kids so young are already thinking in those terms.

eta: this post makes it sound like we haven't talked about it much but we answer any question as it comes up. We're a very open, honest and matter of fact family, but this subject just hasn't made much of an appearance yet.

06-01-2011, 09:59 AM
We are another "from the get go" family. I answer questions as they have come up. For puberty, they have all had that covered. The girls (8 and 9) LOVED the American Girl book about the body. I really don't think we need a formal class for it since they are getting it covered in an ongoing way.
I think about 5th grade is a really good age, personally. You want them to know about it before their body starts changing.

06-01-2011, 10:16 AM
I chose other, because since my daughter is 5 I haven't really thought much about whether or not to do a formal "class" for sex ed. Mostly though I'm answering questions as they come up right now, and I suppose if I feel the need to fill in with a curriculum later I will.

Also it's kind of funny, in my fifth grade year they couldn't find a teacher for the boys, so we all had to be taught together.

06-01-2011, 11:19 AM
I voted "other." Sex ed is a continuous process from infancy into adulthood (and for some beyond). Sex ed happens as needed and when appropriate. Our son is 14 and started puberty last summer. His voice changed from a child's to a tenor, then a baritone and has now settled on bass. This obviously is not the only change. We live in Europe in a popular vacation beach town. It is common to see women topless at the beach and both males and females using the publicly displayed boardwalk showers naked. This has provided lots of fodder for sex ed discussions. Sonny also knows that he can (and he does) come to us with any question of concern. Talks of the human body, its chemistry and functions as well as its ailments and diseases are common place in our home (dad is an MD and I have a MPH) so sonny knows he always get the truth and not lockerroom sex advise. When it comes to the "how to" and the emotional part of sex ed it is of course based upon our own opinions and experiences which we impart to our son as needed. Also, his dad is very religious and I, of course, am obviously not. This gives sonny two distinct opinions of the morals and ethics baggage that sex has been saddled with, although our opinions are not always far apart but are held for differing reasons.

06-01-2011, 12:41 PM
I hope for my kids to be able to do the UU Sex Ed program, called Our Whole Lives. I don't know exactly when - depends on when it's offered around here. If anyone is feeling uncomfortable with the idea of doing all the sex ed themselves, I really encourage you to look into this program - though it's run by a church, it's a UU church, so it doesn't push any specific religious beliefs. It encourages abstinence for teens, but is comprehensive, and inclusive of different sexualities and gender orientations. They have (at least) 4 different age groups - early elementary, preteen, teen, and adult - with developmentally appropriate topics, though not all locations are necessarily going to offer all four levels, or offer them every year.

The United Church of Christ offers the program as well - it's the same sex ed content, but there are Christian (but presumably liberal Christian) teachings included in that version.

We'll do some talk at home (and already do that) and have some books available, as well.

06-01-2011, 01:09 PM
It's not really going to be a "subject" I teach, but rather an ongoing discussion as topics arise. My daughter is only 8 but she is already starting to develop a little bit, which her pediatrician has actually said is common these days (blah). So I got her the American Girl Care and Keeping of You book and she has read through it and we've talked over it. As questions come up, they'll be answered. I don't think an actual curriculum is necessary.

I remember the fifth-grade movie/talk. It came a little late for me, as my periods had started the summer before.

06-01-2011, 04:23 PM

by age 3-4 I read "Where did I come from" to all my kids, and it was in our regular reading rotation. The last time i went to read it with Raven he kinda didnt want to, which cracked me up, but I said i'd skip parts if he told me he wanted to, and he made it through the whole book.

Early teen: my daughter said her freind had a book and she wanted one too. I got "My Body, My Self for Girls". When my older son started asking questions daily about his erections and what happenned to them, I finally bought "Boy's Guide to Becoming a Teen" which slowed down the questions a LOT.

Other topics are discussed as they came up. My daughter and I have gotten in to a lot of detail. I dont know how it will go w my son, as I am really the only person he has to talk to - dh is not comfortable and the ex is not around.

My daughter took a "Mini OWL" at our UU church, but Orion hasnt managed to get any OWL yet - they said they would do another one this year, but i never heard anything. Our church is really shrinking, tho - i should really check out the big, downtown church. I think its nice for them to hear it from another trusted adult among their peers, to help them feel even more comfortable talking about it with other ppl.

but i cant imagine making it a subject - tho i do think Raven, esp, needs some anatomy - he's been saying some strange things.

06-01-2011, 05:36 PM
I put other because we have always been open with the kids about how bodies work. I haven't explained the mechanics of how Daddy gives his genetic material, but will when there is interest from them.

06-01-2011, 07:38 PM
I wasn't sure what to pick. I certainly teach my kids about sex. But it's not a school subject. That's just parental responsibility. And I think 6th grade is sort of late to start. We talk about it and get books about it as it comes up - as it occasionally does.

Stella M
06-01-2011, 10:50 PM
We discuss things as they arise, rather than in a set year. Human reproduction got covered when I was pregnant with ds, the girls and I read a really good book about puberty before they got there and I'm just starting to think about getting some resources together on sex and relationships, which they'll be all "Eww" about I'm sure :)

Ds has expressed no interest in any of it; even his aunty expecting hasn't prompted any questions - I suppose in the next year or so we'll do a babies book and a puberty one later - again, before he reaches puberty.

I actually like the - just answer the questions as they arise approach - but it all falls down if the kids don't ask the question.

06-02-2011, 12:27 AM
"before he reaches puberty" is kinda hard to see, tho. My son showed NO outward signs of puberty when he started talking about his erections constantly. He was probably 12? He is still only 2 inches taller than I am, no hair, no voice change. 2 and a half years later. He does, tho, seem to have his first serious crush - on an 11 yo in our martail arts class. Shes' big - she always teases me that she's about my hight. The last time I saw them in the same room, they were talking about Minecraft and standing REALLY close to each other . . . but not looking AT each other, looking just past each other. It was kinda cute . . . except she's SO young. I did mention that to him later - he said, "I know, and besides, she's moving." Aww.

06-02-2011, 08:19 AM
Yes, I think 6th is VERY late to start if we're talking about broaching the subject for the first time. I guess if you're talking about it as a formal school subject, apart from having had regular discussions on an ongoing basis for several years, it might be ok, but I don't really see the point in that.

Jennifer Higdon
06-02-2011, 11:46 AM
i voted "other" as well. we have a 6yo (almost 7) son, and because he has 2 moms his view of the world from a sexual ideology has always been different, when he was 4 we had to explain that his vpk teacher (female) had a boyfriend, and it blew his mind for a while, lol. then , when he was 5, he "informed" us that he was pretty sure that when he grew up he wanted a girlfriend. a few days later, i found out that he was "in love" with the girl down the street, and still is today. it's really kind of funny and heartbreaking at the same time. when i saw the poll question i thought it would be interesting to see what some other secular homeschool parents replied. funny thing is, for us, the sex education has never been a problem in our family. we are very open about the differences in our bodies and discuss why they are different and their purposes for being different. explaining that love doesn't always lead to marriage, and that having a boy/girl friend is a way for one to "audition" for spouses...has been much harder. in my mind, sex education is more about "prevention of unwanted pregnancy" but, the public schools always seem to fall short on delivering on this subject. as far a puberty discussons have gone with our son, he is interested in his body's changes more, because he can't have a ps3 until he has "armpit hair", so he has been on a daily vigial ever since we told him that...lol

06-02-2011, 11:48 AM
I voted other, as this is a subject that has been discussed from the beginning. The content level has, of course, increased as they have grown. I really liked the American Girl books for my daughter. I started out with The Feelings Book when she was around 8 and later added the My Body Book maybe at age 9. I am contemplating a more in depth 'class' for next year with my daughter who will be 13. I think that she has reached an age where she is beginning to have some additional questions. I am now in the position of looking for a good resource for my son who will be 9, but has picked up his sister's Hair in Funny Places book occasionally. I do not see a more formal 'class' for him at this point although we often cover the same subjects as his sister. Clearly, homeschooling is ideal for this subject, it offers the flexibility needed for various levels of maturity. My daughter would so not have been ready for the 5th grade special health class offered in public school.

06-02-2011, 12:01 PM
My older kids dad was part native american - they didnt get armpit hair until they were like 16. My son would have been heartbroken! Well, unless the PS3 limit doenst apply to nintendo game machines - which are much more kid freindly.

06-02-2011, 01:53 PM
I'm late commenting on this but yes I teach sex-ed (and health - it all goes together in my opinion). Sex is a part of life regardless if you're having it or not. I believe you have to know how your body works and when it doesn't work you need to know why. Also diseases are important especially STD's and how every boy will totally lie to you (ok that was a joke - almost all boys will lie to you :eek: ). I personally had nasty health issues related to HPV - it's true what you do in your youth can come back to haunt you. There has been lots of talk in the news about AIDS during the last week and we've talked about it though not in detail. My DH has suddenly become homophobic - ok he always was but he just pretended not to be, so he wasn't much help on the AIDS subject with his eye rolling which I took to mean he still felt it was a gay problem.

We haven't really talked about pregnancy with the exception that we've told DD she's not allowed to have sex until she's 37. Probably not long enough but hey I tried! We'll revisit pregnancy once she starts her period - heaven help up all.

Oh and DH's homophobia really came to a boiling point last week when our local high school crowned two boys as king and queen of the prom! Just about gave him a heart attack!


06-02-2011, 02:34 PM
That's awesome, Rumbledolly! Bettah than Glee! :)

Seriously, good for the boys AND good for the school. It's about time people woke up.

06-03-2011, 02:29 AM
I picked other. My oldest is 7 and we haven't talked about anything yet. It honestly makes me sick to think about and is my one huge regret about not using public school, as bad as that sounds. I guess she told daddy recently during a science lessons on plants that when they start talking about human bodies, she wants to learn where babies come from. I know I have to suck it up. I will be asking about this topic coming up soon to get some ideas. The whole thing flips me out.

06-03-2011, 08:20 AM
Jeni, can I ask what is so upsetting to you about it? You might want to explore that a little bit before you talk to her about this stuff, because I'm sure the last thing you want to do is give her the idea that our bodies are bad or something to be ashamed of. Remember, you don't have to talk about everything all at once. If she wants to know where babies come from, talk to her about her body first - explain that she (like you) has a uterus, etc., that her body has eggs that might some day help to make a baby. She should know the names for all body parts, including the penis. Once you start, you might not find that it's as difficult as you thought. At that age, you can let her guide you - see what questions she asks before going into detail. Be prepared, though, because my dd did ask exactly how the sperm and egg get together. In fact, she asked twice, once when she was 4 and once when she was 7. She didn't retain it from when she was 4, because when she was 7 and asked, and I told her, she said, "Ew! Gross!" LOL I was a little uncomfortable with giving that explanation, but I did it in a clinical way and got it over with.

06-03-2011, 10:00 AM
Like Pefa, we also have farm animals, so there is no way to avoid the discussion. I think also that my definition of Sex Ed may be broader or different from what is implied here. I do not consider sex education to simply be about sexual contact between people. To me, sex education involves teaching my kids how to detect and avoid sexual predators, sexual hygeine--why you need to wipe your bottom, take a bath, why there are paper stickers in swimsuit crotches, and why you keep your undies on when you try those swimsuits on--Why you don't wear someone else's underwear, or why you change yours daily, etc., and sometimes they see or hear things on the television or the radio or out in town and they ask--and so I tell them as gently as I can, the answer they are seeking. And as often as not, that deals with sex. Our culture is obsessed with it, so it's pervasive.

Most of the songs {even oldies} on the radio are about having sex, looking for love or having a lover, etc.,
We have already had the discussion about where babies come from.

My kids are modest about their bodies for the most part, but I feel good knowing that at least for now, they feel like they can ask me anything. I know that they prefer to avert their eyes if anything offends them on the television as well. So I am not worried about causing them to be precocious. I have some older Childcraft books and one has a fold out of the body, as well as other science/anatomy books. They look at them whenever they want.

06-03-2011, 06:19 PM
Agreed with Eileen, Jeni, that you should think about why it's upsetting to you before you delve in with your dd. I understand that it's an uncomfortable topic for many people, but it's also a totally normal one and the last thing you want to convey (intentionally or not) is that your dd can't come talk to you about it or that it's somehow shameful or wrong to think about.

The majority of public schools do a terrible, terrible job with sex ed. So really, do tell yourself that even if you feel like you don't do a great job, it's GOT to be better than a bunch of people whose mouths are gagged when it comes to talking about the vast majority of aspects of sex and sexuality.

06-03-2011, 08:22 PM
Yes, i've mentioned elsewhere that in my school district, they do nothing until high school, and then they teach that condoms dont stop stds so you shouldnt buy them, and my daughter's teacher started out the year with statements like "if you have sex before you're married, you'll never have a happy family like mine" and something about sex is a duty but the kids are worth it. Talk about misinformation and bias! And i saw a show about teen moms - one of them had 2 kids by the time she was 16. She had a gig talking to schools about teen pregnancy, but she was only allowed to talk about how hard her life was, she was not allowed to talk about birth control even if she was asked.

06-03-2011, 11:52 PM
Oh, are we telling inappropriate stories? I have a lot from teaching sex ed to middle schoolers... but I'll spare you all. And them, since they're all grown up and not my own kids. :D

06-04-2011, 01:08 AM
but you wouldnt have to name names! I still remember my middle school sex ed - it was part of religion class . . . in a quaker school . . . taught by this little feisty mexican teacher. I remember her putting a tampon in a glass of water, and showing the whole class (boys, too, i THINK? maybe not?) how to use the old-fashioned menstrual belts. I also remember her saying she had to talk to highschoolers (it was a boarding school at high school level) that yes, you can get pregnant even if its just once and even if you dont enjoy it.

i admit, i'm glad to leave a lot of those details to books. I did once have to tell my son that 12 was too young to be having sex, and he looked shocked and said 'Really?" I was just grateful he didnt question me . . . obviously, some kids DO have sex at 12.

for some reason just yesterday I asked about arm pit hair, and he reminded me that he'd gotten pubic hair over a year ago. I guess he'd told me but i'd forgotten? and once dh moved in, there was a lot less nudity around the house . .

06-04-2011, 10:38 AM
Corrigan! LOL.

I had a friend whose daughter walked in on her stepdad in the bathroom once and screamed because she thought he had a tail!

What I have discovered with children is that they are all individuals when it comes to body comfort zones, modesty and the like--just like we are. So I observe my children and try to respect their individual comfort zones when it comes to nudity. Some kids are naturally more shy than others about such things, and so I prefer to go slow with them and not overwhelm them with information, especially if it is not asked for and there are no current life situations where it is needed. That being said, the door is always open.

I have no qualms about talking about sex, stds, birth control, birthing, fertility and infertility, or sexuality. I try to keep it age appropriate though.

Sex is a healthy expression of an adult life. Or it should be.

The hardest part for me with girls is teaching them the difference between a healthy sexual identity and not allowing society to chain them to an unhealthy sexual identity with it's schizophrenic treatment of female sexuality.

Yes, as a woman you have every right to sex and sexual pleasure, but with that comes certain responsibilities. ---

06-05-2011, 12:21 AM
Cara, the things I had to explain when I taught sex ed... Oy. When you let them ask questions anonymously, then you end up calmly explaining things like the difference between anal sex and "doggie style." Sigh. Straight face. Straight face. I did do a huge sanitary products show and tell for a girls retreat once. We had an array of products you wouldn't believe. And then the girls took them all apart and made jewelry with them. That was not part of the plan. They just did it.

My boys are so young that they still just blurt things out about their bodies. Last week after we were in the ocean, BalletBoy announced to everyone that his penis was "really cold!"

06-05-2011, 01:30 PM
Cara, the things I had to explain when I taught sex ed... like the difference between anal sex and "doggie style."
And i'm imaginging there was nothing in your teacher training which covered that question, either . . . lol

06-05-2011, 04:48 PM
Cara, the things I had to explain when I taught sex ed... Oy. When you let them ask questions anonymously, then you end up calmly explaining things like the difference between anal sex and "doggie style." Sigh. Straight face. Straight face. I did do a huge sanitary products show and tell for a girls retreat once. We had an array of products you wouldn't believe. And then the girls took them all apart and made jewelry with them. That was not part of the plan. They just did it.
Our teacher did that in 6th grade. She was talking about how she wondered what the checker must have been thinking when she'd bought it all, when the girl standing next to me fell down and had a seizure.

It made for a rather memorable lesson.

06-05-2011, 09:06 PM
Put me in the catagory of talking about things when they come up. Last year, my DD, then 7 kept persuing the"But HOW did the seed get to the egg?" I tried to explain it as matter of factly as possible. The conversation ended with her saying that because we have the two kids, "You and Daddy don't do that." I don't think I answered! My DS6 could care less about any of it. We just mention things as we go along. We never sit down for a "talk."

06-05-2011, 09:23 PM
The conversation ended with her saying that because we have the two kids, "You and Daddy don't do that." I don't think I answered!
LOL no, i dont think there's a good way to answer that - obviously she's not ready to believe that her parents do something so 'gross'! (Apparently my younger sister went and asked my parents how babies are made when she was 5 and i was 6 or 7. She promptly came back and told me and I said something like 'no way, thats gross' loud enough for my parents to hear it)

06-08-2011, 12:21 AM
I voted "other" as we, too, hit upon the subject as needed. I want him to feel comfortable asking us ANYTHING and he's been probing for information lately (he'll be 12 in a few months, going into 6th grade).

I wrote a blog post in February and highlighted several great books that are available for kids and teens. I purchased a few of them used and have been happy with their content. They are in his room on his bookshelf, there for when curiosity strikes - and it has! Here's the link to the blog post and books:

No need to do a formal class on sex ed around here. It seems to be a subject that is popping up more and more and that's just fine :)

06-08-2011, 03:12 PM
I voted no, as we discuss puberty, their bodies, and sex as the topic comes up and when each kid is ready.

Same here, it will be covered when necessary and as much as necessary.

06-09-2011, 02:06 AM
We are starting with basic sex ed next year in First Grade.
Starting with this book:

06-09-2011, 10:51 AM
Well I'm not giving pointers or diagrams.:D

But they know what sex is and where babies come from. Usually around age 10, we give the complete discussion of changing bodies and sex.

Relationships are an on going discussion part of life thing.

Really with a large family this can't be avoided. People are always asking us if we have heard of the pill, babies always spark questions of where they come from, older siblings are getting hair in weird places and pimples and acting different.